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Lowering the barriers of collaboration

When we started defining our 6 pillars of JOINT INNOVATION, I knew that #3 The Lowest Barrier of collaboration was the one that would really set us apart from [all] other players in the market. Looking at the dynamics of the software for industrial manufacturers market, the majority of the suppliers are Goliaths that have been around for a couple of decades. A natural result of these players is that they have internal structures for collaboration that are based on operational efficiency. At TrendMiner we are a young and agile team that want to do this differently and focus our processes on the delivery to the customer.

One of my favourite quotes from Scott Stratten (@UNmarketing) is “never tell your customers that they are waiting in the wrong line“. Do you recognize the feeling? Next to shortening procedures we’ll also remove unnecessary policies if they would add a barrier. In this blogpost I will go into a couple of examples we have already implemented; the Doorbell Chat, in-app Chat Support and the Make-a-Wish button.

Doorbell Chat

You are not even a customer (yet), but you want some information. Maybe our website is not giving you all the answers you need. What’s next? Go to our contacts page and send us an email? Or even worse: get a contact form with 37 mandatory fields to fill in? That’s not really helpful and neither is that how we communicate in 2016. So I wanted a chat plugin for our website.

So why do we call this the doorbell chat? First of all when you open a chat-box on a random website, you usually get either a social media professional or someone from the sales-team. With a team of 30 people that’s probably not the most efficient way to make sure everyone gets answered as soon as possible. Therefor we introduced the doorbell principle: when you ring a door you have no idea who will open it. So make sure anyone within the company can answer the request without having to be logged into the website was my main priority.

To do this we used Smooch as a plugin in our WordPress website and SLACK as our backend. Since we are already using SLACK as our internal collaboration platform that solved the anyone problem. Secondly by using slack we can introduce other people internally to this same conversation without having to divert to other media (remember the “waiting in the wrong line” quote from above?). An extra benefit to this is that there is a complete transparency to all our colleagues. Even if they were not in the specific conversation, they can still see what visitors are asking us.

Screenshot 2016-04-01 15.03.02

Tools: Hosted WordPress website with Smooch in-app chat plugin, SLACK collaboration platform as backend.

Chat Support

The TrendMiner user interface is a modern HTML5 frontend, not a retrofitted windows application in a web-browser like a lot of the other tools that claim to have web-support. With that comes all the flexibility of adding consumer experience in enterprise software. We have added a whole list of direct links to our video pages, wiki, … and we have introduced the same type of chat as for our website. This time with dedicated support people following that channel. Recognize something on the right there?

Screenshot 2016-04-01 15.50.18

But we’ve taken this one step further! Not only is this live chat a direct link between our users and the engineers, this is also automatically creating a support ticket in our support system (Zendesk). So whether your request was a short usability question or it appears to be a bug you found, we have already aligned all the systems in the backend to make sure this can be followed without diverting or duplicating the conversation.

TrendMiner: where customer service is not an oxymoron
(another quote from Scott Stratten)

Tools: TrendMiner Application with Smooch in-app chat plugin, connected to both SLACK for the chat and Zendesk for support ticket follow-up.

Make-a-wish button

If I had to choose a favourite it would be this one. How many times haven’t you thought about an improvement for an application and you wanted to shout that at the product managers? Lately you would have used Twitter for that and you’d get the following answer: “can you send us an email to support@…. please?” For enterprise software it’s even worse. I’ve seen more than one system where you’d have to log-in to a specific website and then go through again a -37 mandatory fields- form to get our idea across. Who can be bothered with that in 2016?

The make-a-wish button is just that within the application. 1 button – 1 text-field. This is lowering the barrier of collaboration to the ultimate minimum!makeawish

Tools: technically we are using the Smooch api to SLACK and Zendesk like we did for the chat support. The reason we do ask for an email address is that although we do capture the specific customer and username here automatically, not all usernames are defined as their real name.